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The Legislature completed its last regular business floorperiod of the 201-14 legislative session on April 1. Pursuant to 2013 Senate Joint Resolution 1 (which sets the official session schedule), a limited-business floorperiod is scheduled for April 29-May 1.
No hearings on matters related to K-12 education are scheduled for the week of April 21- 25.
Only a handful of session days remain for the 2013-14 legislative session. While most of the issues seem to be decided, anything can happen. That makes it important for school board members to make a strong advocacy push in the final days. Here are the key bills to be talking to legislators about:
Senate Bill 589 and Assembly Bill 749, a pair of bills that would eliminate the mandate for school boards to schedule a 180-day school calendar and allow schools to be governed by existing hours of instruction requirements. The bills would also ensure that school districts can receive aid for students while in sessions not considered part of the regular school year, including summer school and interim sessions. This will give local school boards options to explore innovative scheduling such as year-round school that could help to reduce summer learning loss and further contribute to student learning gains, particularly among struggling students. The WASB supports both bills. Both bills have been voted out of committee. The Senate bill was passed by the Senate on Tuesday, March 11. It has been tentatively scheduled to be taken up by the Assembly on Tuesday, March 18.
Senate Bill 619, and its companion Assembly Bill 617, would create a 15-member board of political appointees to re-write Wisconsin’s academic standards and dump the Common Core State Standards. (See story above) The proposed change is an attempt to mollify tea party conservatives opposed to the Common Core. The WASB opposes both bills. To date, neither bill has been voted out of committee.
Senate Bill 525 and Assembly Bill 682 , a pair of bills to create a statewide voucher program for students with special needs. The WASB opposes both bills. To date, neither bill has been voted out of committee.
Assembly Bill 379, as proposed to be amended, would create an accountability framework for all publicly funded schools in the state, including private voucher schools, independent charter schools and public schools under the school board governance. While the WASB endorsed the original version of the bill, the WASB has opposed the modified version of the bill because it would force persistently low-performing public schools to be closed permanently or converted to a charter school, but lacks clarity about what is meant under either option. The WASB also opposes the complete lack of correctional interventions for low-performing private voucher schools. Under the modified version of bill low-performing private voucher schools could continue operating as usual but would be barred from accepting new voucher students. To date, the bill has not been voted out of committee.
NOTE: It now appears likely the Assembly will try to attach the newest version of its accountability proposal to Senate Bill 286, an earlier attempt at creating a voucher accountability system, which passed the Senate as a very stripped-down, simplified, data-collection-only version. The newest proposal will likely be introduced as an Assembly Substitute Amendment to Senate Bill 286, and will be taken up directly on the Assembly floor (without a public hearing) on March 18 or 20.
GENERAL AID ESTIMATES FOR SCHOOL DISTRICTS RELEASED
Estimates released by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) on June 29 indicate state general aids for school districts are projected to rise by $21.4 million over 2011-12 levels, from a total of $4.15 billion to $4.17 billion. Figures indicate 155 districts are projected to gain aid, while 267 districts are projected to lose aid compared with last year.
About two-thirds of state school districts can expect to receive less state aid in the upcoming school year than they did in 2011-12, according to estimates the state Department of Public Instruction released June 29, 2012.
The 267 school districts that will see reductions are expected to collectively receive $79.4 million less next year, while 155 districts that will see an increase will split an additional $100.5 million. Two districts are expected to see no change in their state aid.
DPI noted the figures on how the $4.29 billion in state aid will be split were based on budgeted district data from 2011-12 and not on audited data from 2011-12.
On Oct. 15, the agency will certify general aid amounts for the school year based on audited 2011-12 data.
View the aid estimates
Note: This aid calculation is an estimate based upon the best information available as of July 1, 2012. On October 15, 2012, the department will certify General Aid for 2012-13 using district data, as verified by school district auditors. The October 15 General Aid Certification must be used in district 2012-13 revenue limit calculations, which will also determine 2013 property tax levies certified in Fall, 2012.
Boards may also wish to view a longitudinal (multi-year) analysis of their district’s General Aid eligibility over time. This analysis can be found here.
HEFTY PROPORTION OF AID INCREASE GOES TO INDEPENDENT CHARTERS, VOUCHERS
While the general school aids appropriation for 2012-13 increased by $31.7 million over 2011-12, school districts will receive only $21.4 million of that increase. That’s because money to fund private voucher schools and independent charters is skimmed off the top as a “first draw” on general aid funding. Independent charter schools will see an additional $7.5 million over last year, while private voucher schools will see an additional $2.2 million in Milwaukee and $.6 million in Racine.
What the numbers show is that independent charter schools and voucher schools, which together are projected to serve roughly 31,800 FTE students, will receive nearly one-third ($10.3 million) of the new money, while public school districts, which serve 855,000 FTE students—or about 27 times as many students—will receive only $21.4 million in additional general aid.
SCHOOL TO WORK INITIATIVES
SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY FRAMEWORK:
Collaborative Effort to Design New State School Accountability Framework Underway
Governor Scott Walker and State Superintendent Tony Evers are leading a collaborative effort with other educators, policymakers, and parents to develop a new statewide accountability system for education. The WASB is participating in this effort. The overarching goal will be to develop a growth-based accountability system to replace the flawed, one-size-fits-all accountability imposed by the federal No Child Left Behind law. The new accountability system will consider multiple measures of student and school performance focused on college and career readiness. Read more ...
Reexamining How Wisconsin Evaluates Teacher and Principal Performance
Wisconsin education leaders are working to create an evaluation system that considers accountability and capacity building and will utilize multiple measures including value added student test results and direct observations of classroom interaction. The WASB is a part of this effort. Read more ...
STATEWIDE STUDENT INFORMATION SYSTEM
The 2011-13 biennial budget set aside $15 million dollars to be used by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to implement a statewide student information system (SIS)--a massive data collection, storage and reporting system for every type of school data.
This statewide SIS would encompass all the typical information collection, storage and reporting functions related to operating a school in a single system, including: enrollment, withdrawal, attendance, discipline, term grades, scheduling, course requests, grade books, special education, typical reporting such as report cards and transcripts, and a parent/student portal.
The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee (JFC) has voted to release $5 million to the DPI to enable the statewide SIS project to go forward with a provision that the DPI can seek the release of additional funds by providing satisfactory progress reports.
In addition, the JFC directed that a request for proposals be prepared to select a single vendor for the statewide SI; however, with an exemption for any school district that meets certain criteria. (Currently, only the Tomah Area School District has an SIS that meets those criteria.) Read more …
PROVIDING MANDATE RELIEF AND ADDITIONAL FLEXIBILITY FOR SCHOOL BOARDS
SB 95 and AB 130
TAKING LICENSURE ACTION AGAINST TEACHERS WHO HAVE BEEN DISMISSED FOR VIEWING PORNOGRAPY AT SCHOOL
SB 49 and AB 71
UNCOMPLICATING THE ADMINISTRATION OF MEDICATION TO PUPILS
SB 45 and AB 62
STATEWIDE INDEPENDENT CHARTER SCHOOL EXPANSION
SB 22 and AB 51
A PENNY FOR KIDS
The Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools initiated a Penny for Kids campaign in November. The campaign calls for a one-cent increase in the state sales tax with revenues dedicated to funding Wisconsin public schools.A one-cent increase in the sales tax is estimated to generate $856 million annually. Visit the A Penny for Kids Web site for more information.
SCHOOL FINANCE NETWORK
The School Finance Network is a coalition of individuals and organizations dedicated to children, and to finding a better way to fund each ane every one of Wisconsin's public schools. Read more ...
LABOR RELATIONS REFORM BILL
A package of changes to the state’s collective bargaining laws has been put together by local government associations, including the WASB. Read more ...
HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM INITIATIVE: AUTHORITY TO SELECT THE HEALTH INSURANCE CARRIER
The WASB 2010 Delegate Assembly approved a resolution calling for “legislation that would make the selection of health insurance providers a prohibited subject of bargaining and to grant school boards the unilateral authority to determine the health insurance provider(s) for their employees.” Read more ...